While science is dominated by a materialist paradigm that sees the physical world as the foundation of reality, some of the more ancient studies of the nature of reality place consciousness at the centre instead – as the container and origin of all forms and phenomena. Everything we experience is both experienced by consciousness but also arises from and in it.
If this is true, consciousness is not a side-effect of brain functioning as often thought. Our physiology certainly influences the quality of our experience of the world, but this is not due to its fundamental nature but because consciousness is continuously self-referral. Everything is a feedback loop. What arises from it feeds back to it.
I touched on this recently when speaking of the nadis, the energy channels that make up the foundation of the channel systems (circulatory, lymbic, nervous) of the physical body. Why are nadi’s tubes? Because consciousness flows and is self-referral. It curves back on itself continuously as it flows. Thus it spirals back on itself continuously into a spiralling tube.
We see such spiral patterns throughout nature. You’ve undoubtedly seen those models of our solar system, with planets orbiting the sun. However, the planets don’t circle the sun as we might assume. The sun is moving through space at about 810,000 kph. We’re actually spirally through space with the sun at high speed. We never orbit back to the same place, except relative to the sun.
Just as the planets orbit the sun, so too do electrons orbit the nucleus of an atom. (as a particle or probability cloud, however you look at it (literally)) We also observe spirals that close in on themselves throughout nature. (Fibonacci or golden ratio spirals are a special cases of this) In sunflowers, snail shells, water going down a drain, and the arms of galaxies, for example.
This spiralling in is a key aspect of how form comes to be. There is flow, there is growth, and there is what physics calls inertia. We might describe this last one subjectively as resistance. The Vedas call it the Tamas guna.
When flow is even and in balance, we have a state of dharma. Creation is sustained. When flow expands, we see growth. When flow contracts, the spiral tightens. If it continues, the flow collapses to a point value.
This concentration of inertia is what we describe as matter, the material world. There, consciousness is more dense and concentrated. And in that density, it becomes lost to itself. The flow of awareness is sluggish and we become identified with the objects of perception.
The spiritual path on the other hand is the reversal of this trend into inertia. It is an opening, a letting go, a releasing of resistance. It is the conversion of tamas into rajas and then sattva. It is returning to the origins of becoming.